The Houston Dynamo begin their 12th season in Major League Soccer this Saturday against the MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC at BBVA Compass Stadium (7:30 p.m. CT, TICKETS).
Seattle boasts a number of big names that will cause a challenge for several MLS teams this season, among them 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year Nicolás Lodeiro, the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris, and team captain Osvaldo Alonso. To add to that, U.S. national team forward Clint Dempsey is cleared to play after missing the later part of last season due to an irregular heartbeat.
Despite the abundance in talent on the Sounders roster, Dynamo head coach Wilmer Cabrera says his team is not afraid of the defending champs.
“We respect them, but we are not worried,” said Cabrera. “We really respect the team, because they are champions right now. We have to have a lot of respect for them, but we have to worry about what we do on the field as a team and individually.”
What the Dynamo will look to do is translate their success in the preseason into three points on Saturday. The players continue to adapt to each other and build chemistry after welcoming 12 new faces to the team this offseason.
“We've got to continue with that chemistry,” forward Erick Torres said. “I think the team is going to attack a lot, we are going to go deep in the games we play and that is going to be important because it will create scoring opportunities, which with no doubt we are going to finish.”
Among the biggest talk of the offseason are the additions of Honduran forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto, but key pieces were acquired on defense as well, including Panamanian defender Adolfo Machado and MLS veterans Leonardo and A.J. DeLaGarza. Cabrera says it will take a balanced team to win this season.
"We cannot say now that we have the best attack if every time we get scored on,” said Cabrera. “A good team is a balanced team and balanced means that, at some point, we have to defend. In the game, we will not have the ball at times and how are we going to defend? We will be solid defensively, we have worked on that a lot, for when we win the ball we can have attacking opportunities.”
The Dynamo and Sounders faced off three times in 2016, drawing 1-1 twice at BBVA Compass Stadium and 0-0 at CenturyLink Field. On Saturday, both teams will look to break the stalemate and kick off the season on the right foot.